Ever since sport existed, people have been measuring and monitoring performance and achievement in sport, but it is only since electronics has become miniaturised that lightweight, wearable devices can be carried almost without detection and enable people to measure their own and others’ performance.
A device such as a Fitbit or a Garmin can access and transmit a vast array of information such as heart rate, pace, power and altitude from sensors that read barometric pressure, electrical pulses, light, movement, satellites and metallurgic strain.
Devices such as cameras can be used to check and correct golf swing, show vision of an athletes run, bike ride or paddle; and overlay speed, altitude and power output of a bike rider onto videos.
Coaches can use this information to analyse and improve the performance of their athletes, a personal coach has no need to be in the same geographical area to train someone but can do it virtually nowadays.
Cameras and lasers that can capture the speed of a ball, whether it crosses a line or listen to when it hits a wicket or a net, can adjudicate a decision and eliminate human error or assist in making a decision.
No longer do net judges have to put themselves in the firing line to make a call, although tradition and convention ensures that these calls will be made by humans and assisted by technology for the foreseeable future.
However it is when the data is collected and aggregated via personal technology and analysed, that this technology really comes into its own. With the advent of the cloud and the ability for thousands of athletes to upload their data easily via services such as Strava, Garmin Connect, Endomondo and Fitbit - aggregation and collaboration becomes possible.
Users can even use a treadmill or cycling machine to be placed into a virtual sporting environment and ride alongside others who are geographically separated from them.
This allows competitions to be entered between people who are separated by continents, yet share a common sport. Involving daily step total competitions, virtual rides, runs or paddles.
With GPS enabled on everyone, it is also possible to “draw” on a very large map overlaid canvas. People have, mostly on bicycles, sketched out huge art works by riding a preplanned route. One Canadian man has even drawn an image of Darth Vader over the suburbs of Toronto.
On occasion there are issues around privacy. For example if you have a GPS tracker on a device and this can be observed by others, it is also possible that those with nefarious intent can obtain the exact location that expensive sporting equipment is stored at and steal it.
Technology in sport is evolving rapidly and the use of it encourages sports people to go that one step further. Innovation will allow sports people to share and motivate themselves and others to perform at a high level.
[As written by one of our Technical Consultants]